Growing up, I never really thought I’d be anything else but a guitar player. By the time I had graduated from college, I was producing my own albums that were very much in a cinematic/theatrical rock style. Most of this music, however, was just too difficult to perform in clubs due to the vast array of sounds and instruments that were in the arrangements. I was repeatedly frustrated that I was unable to showcase my conceptual music properly.
So one day, on a whim, I decided to make a sort of comedy short film featuring an old Schwinn bicycle and myself. I posted it on Youtube and it got some pretty good response. I starred, directed, and put my own music in it. I really enjoyed doing it and there were no frustrations from having to work with other people to get it done!
I was quickly hooked and shot a couple more videos to hone my craft, including a spot for a Heinz 57 commercial contest. Although it didn’t win, I was quite happy with the results.
At this point I really wanted to go further but I wasn’t interested in making any more shorts or commercials. There’s only so much you can say in 5 or 10 minutes…or 30 seconds if it’s a commercial! And this is especially true for character and story development. I didn’t feel like this was a huge jump for me, however, because most of my previous compositional works were very conceptual and had a pretty clear narrative. And after listening to countless people at parties talking about how they had a super great idea for a movie etc., etc., then doing nothing about it, I decided it was time to actually sit down and start writing the screenplay for this idea I had about a modern classical composer.
Over about a 6-month period I worked every day on the screenplay. At the time, I worked at an off-track betting site where between selling a ticket or two to some homely old fellow, I would lean over and feverishly write away on these sketchpads that I bought from Home Depot. After work I would go home and type them up on my computer. Eventually, after quite a bit of re-organizing and re-writing, I had a completed script.
After the script was done, I started meeting with some DP’s (Director of Photography) to try and find someone who was as hungry as I was to shoot their first independent feature film, and who knew that I had absolutely no funds raised for it yet! Well, I found out quickly that nobody really wanted to help me out financially. After all, I never went to film school or had made my way up the ranks as an aspiring film director while attracting supporters along the way who I knew were ready to help finance me on my big jump into features. Nope, they all pretty much thought I was crazy. So after a month or two of this, I thought, “screw it,” I’ll finance as much as I can out of my own pocket. We’ll start shooting and I’ll figure it out as I go!
So I found a DP who wanted to work for the experience but we had no other crew or cast yet. Oh, and one other thing; we had to get everything shot in two and half months because my daughter was going to be born in December!
I got a great deal where I could rent the community center for two days for a total of $85 for the auditions. The lady who ran the center hooked me up big time! After those two days I had my cast…a really good cast. I pretty much felt I had found the real life incarnations of the other three main characters as I wrote them in the screenplay. This was due mostly to their personalities coupled with their natural instincts as actors. It was just obvious when we read together that they were right for the roles. No question.
So I found a sound mixer and then met the other two crewmembers for the first time literally one day before shooting! They were both girls and one of them quit after the first day. It was difficult to keep everything organized at times but I felt I knew the script so well that we would get through it OK. Hell, I had never even been on a film set of any kind…oh well, too late now! Honestly though, it was exhilarating! I felt right at home.
Throughout most of the shooting there were some definite roadblocks. This was due mostly to a lack of money and having no other producers and very little crew to help out. And because of this strain, the crew all left my production to go be on paying jobs. It didn’t help that we had a very spotty shooting schedule either…two days here, a day or two there; it was just becoming too much of a grind with our limited resources. So I only had 8 days of footage in the can and had no crew.
A couple months went by while I tried to regroup, all the while knowing that I would have to come up with some money to pay a new crew, if I could even find one. But with a baby on the way, the mere idea of spending all of my own money on the film seemed absolutely crazy. I really didn’t know if it was even going to be possible. Then, after a false start with a new DP, who had second thoughts about the film just days before we were going to pick up shooting again, I thought I was going to have to abandon the film completely…DAMN!
Then…literally a half-hour after the DP informed me that they just didn’t feel the film was right for them, I get a call from someone…and this came about exactly 5 minutes after I was convinced the film now would never get made. It was another DP who actually got my info from the DP who had just quit and was wondering if he could shoot the film for me! I couldn’t believe it! AND he had the exact same camera package as my first DP so all the footage would be consistent with what we had already shot! We met a day or two later and we came up with a rate that he would be willing to work at. We were back on!
So now I had a brand new beautiful daughter and was going to start shooting again in a couple weeks. It was tough on both Kendra and I because our little babe never slept through the night…EVER! And this went on for a good 4 months. I felt like jumping out the window a couple times! She’s great though…I love her so much and she loves me right back.
It ended up taking more time and money to finish shooting than I originally thought but we finally got it all in the can…in just over a year. I feel extremely grateful to have made it this far…REALLY. To work in a medium that allows me expression through many disciplines simultaneously, where the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts, is a freedom unlike any other.
We’re not quite finished yet though! We still need to raise some money to get through post-production. We have recently begun a KICKSTARTER campaign for anyone interested in supporting our film. Just click on this link if you’d like to help us out. We could really use your support!!
David Lunday is a graduate of Portland State University with a B.S. in Music with high honors. He has composed contemporary classical music works as well as arrangements for jazz big band. While at PSU, he also studied screenwriting and acting for the theater. His acting credits include his own films as well as other directors’ work. Additionally, he has produced several albums that showcase his unique theatrical flair for songwriting. His production company, Lunday Pictures, was subsequently started as a vehicle in which he could combine his talents as a composer, director, and screenwriter to produce unique feature films, beginning with "The Maestro".
Connect with David Lunday:
@davidlunday on Twitter